Officials of Heartland FC of Owerri disclosed yesterday that the team’s contingent to tomorrow’s CAF Champions League final match against TP Mazembe of the Democratic Republic of Congo will leave today aboard a chartered aircraft from the Port Harcourt International Airport.
The Nigerian flag–bearers won the first leg 2-1 in Owerri on Sunday and countenance a huge battle on their hands against a side that parades the bulk of the DR Congo home–based squad that won the inaugural African Nations Championship in Ivory Coast earlier this year.
“We are going by chartered flight because it would be much better for us. If we have to go by regular flight, we would have to first fly to another country, Ethiopia or Kenya or elsewhere before connecting Lubumbashi. And it would not be good for us,” said the official.
Enyimba FC of Aba is the only Nigerian Club to have won the most prestigious Club marble on the continent, when she did a double in 2003 and 2004.
Enugu Rangers, Shooting Stars of Ibadan and Iwuanyanwu Nationale FC of Owerri (fore–runner of Heartland FC) are the only other Nigerian Clubs to have played in the Final of the biggest club championship on the continent.
In 1988, Iwuanyanwu Nationale defeated Setif of Algeria 1-0 in Ibadan only to lose 4-0 in Algiers.
The Nigeria Football Federation has written to the Nigeria Embassy in DR Congo to make arrangement for special protection for the Heartland FC contingent and also mobilize Nigerians within and around Lubumbashi to support Heartland at the Stade de La Kenya on Saturday.
NFF President Sani Lulu Abdullahi, 1st Vice President Amanze Uchegbulam and General Secretary Bolaji Ojo-Oba, who cheered on Heartland FC in the first leg in Owerri, will also be in Lubum-bashi.
NDDC U-17 Peace Cup To Resume In Uyo
The long awaited finale of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) U-17 Peace Cup would expectedly resume next week as two qualified teams from the nine states converge in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom capital.
Technical Director of the tournament Etim Esin in a statement on behalf of the Local Organising Committee Chairman John Ekpeyong and Secretary Ada Gwegwe yesterday said the Minister of the Niger Delta Affairs, Chief Senator Godswill Akpabio, CON, will declare the tournament open.
It added that the Special Assistant to the President Muhammad Buhari, on Sports Development, Coach Daniel Amokachi, NFF Technical Director Coach Augustine Eguavoen along with football legend Taribo West and other notable Niger Delta-based and foreign scouts will be on ground.
The LOC appreciated the Sole Administrator of the NDDC, Effiong Akwa, for his support towards the conclusion of the tournament, adding that it is better late than never, as the competition will still be among his numerous legacies.
According to the statement, the arrival date for participating teams is 11th of December, while screening of teams and official kick off, will take place the following day.
The statement further called on the Coordinators of the states not to forget the rules of engagement, especially on the age bracket of the players, as the screening will be strict, for the aim of the competition to be achieved.
FIBA World Cup: Kida Lauds D’Tigers’ Strong Qualifiers Start
Top basketball administrator and immediate past Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF) president, Engr Musa Kida, has congratulated the D’Tigers for starting their 2022 FIBA World Cup on a strong note after picking two victories in three matches.
With five points from a possible six and a superior point difference, the team sits comfortably atop group A ahead of the next round of games coming up by the 27th of June, 2022.
Kida described the team’s performance as inspiring despite peculiar circumstances surrounding the federation’s election as well as FIBA’s stance over Nigeria’s participation at the qualifiers.
“It is really nice to start such important qualifiers on a winning note which is very good for our chances of qualifying for the World Cup. We had to put our administrative differences aside for the sake of Nigeria and Nigerians.”
“We feel elated and justified that our decision to give FIBA the go ahead to register the team which enabled them participate paid off in the long run as we join hands with all stakeholders to continue growing the game in Nigeria”.
16 teams are vying for the available five spots at the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup with Nigeria grouped alongside Mali, Cape Verde and Uganda.
“The top three teams from each group will advance to the Second Round of the African Qualifiers and will join three other teams to create two six-team groups with results from the preliminary rounds carried over,” Musa added.
AWCON Qualifiers: Ebi Targets Revenge Against Ivory Coast
Super Falcons defender, Onome Ebi, says the team will go all out for revenge when they clash against Ivory Coast in their final 2022 Africa Women’s Cup of Nations qualifiers next year.
The qualifying game which will be played on a home and away basis is scheduled for February 13 and 17 with the winners qualifying for the AWCON in Morocco.
The Falcons who will be hoping to defend the title they won at the 2018 in Ghana are eyeing their 10th trophy Morocco but to qualify for the event, they’ll have to go past the Ivorians who knocked them out of contention for the 2020 Olympics in Japan.
Ebi, who is Nigeria’s current longest-serving player says her aim is to avenge the loss that saw them miss out on the 2020 Olympics at the hands of the Ivorians.
“I can tell you that we still nurse the pain of missing out of the Tokyo Olympics as a result of the loss to Cote d’Ivoire in the qualifying series,” Ebi said.
“This time, we will repay them in their own coins. Personally, I want to play in the Africa Cup of Nations and the FIFA World Cup, and I know it is the same for my teammates.”
The Falcons are the most successful African women’s team in the world and have won the AWCON a record nine times and will be hoping to get their 10th next year after the 2020 edition was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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